Policy Performance


Economic Policies

With uncertainty heightened by regional and internal events, Turkey scores relatively poorly (rank 33) with regard to economic policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

The failed July 2016 coup increased political and economic uncertainty. Under the state of emergency, many public employees were suspended or dismissed, and many companies taken over by the state. Households subsequently delayed spending, and corporations postponed key investment decisions.

Despite these challenges, growth has been moderate to strong, at 3.2% of GDP in 2015 and around 5% in 2017. Inflation has been above targets. Overall unemployment is nearly 11%, with informal employment accounting for more than a third of total employment. The labor-force participation rate has risen slightly, but remains only a few points above 50%.

Nearly 70% of total tax revenues come from indirect taxes. After a period of declines, the budget deficit jumped to 2.3% of GDP in 2016, following post-coup stimulus measures. Debt is growing but remains moderate by international standards, at 28.1% of GDP.

Social Policies

With the pressure of refugee care stressing social budgets, Turkey scores relatively poorly (rank 34) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.6 points relative to 2014.

Near-universal primary enrollment was achieved in 2013 – 2014, but gender gaps increase strongly at higher educational levels. Thousands of teachers were dismissed and numerous schools and universities closed in the wake of the coup attempt. Income inequality is very substantial, but poverty rates are falling.

Health care quality is steadily improving, with near-universal health-insurance coverage achieved by 2014, but cost pressures are growing. The employment rate for women is very low. The government’s conservative family-affairs stance has provoked ongoing debate on gender equality. Crime is poorly controlled, and the number of murders of women has increased.

A new government program creates pension plans for all public and private sector employees under 45, and matches 25% of employee contributions. The Syrian civil war has produced around 3.5 million refugees in Turkey, along with massive financial burdens. The EU has provided some funding, but only a small fraction of the more than €22 billion that Turkey has spent since the beginning of the conflict.

Environmental Policies

With relatively underdeveloped conservation regimes, Turkey falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 40) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

While improvements have been made with regard to emissions controls, the use of renewable energy, and energy efficiency, the country is still rated poorly in terms of climate performance. The country has signed the UN climate-change agreement, and is developing an emissions-monitoring mechanism, but related policy changes have been superficial.

Progress has been made on regulating air quality and industrial pollution. Conservation-focused regulation for wetlands, forests and natural sites suffers from legal shortcomings. Regulations on industrial pollution and chemicals do not meet international standards.

The country used its G-20 presidency to support principles for supporting the global poor by improving access to energy, along with issues such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and a phase-out of inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies.



Quality of Democracy

With concerns rising sharply following the attempted coup, Turkey takes the SGI 2018’s bottom spot (rank 41) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 1.8 points relative to its 2014 level.

The state of emergency imposed following the July 15 coup attempt remained in force throughout 2017. The government passed numerous laws by executive decree, and continued practices of closing or restricting media outlets and detaining journalists, and seizing Gülenist companies or property. The Constitutional Court ruled that it could not review decrees issued under the state of emergency.

The Supreme Board of Elections’ power to sanction electoral-law violations was repealed by emergency decree. Several media outlets were sold to unknown owners assumed to have government ties. Fundamental rights and freedoms are deemed to be severely at danger. Insulting the president is a criminal offense, with thousands of people facing years in prison.

Judicial polarization has increased. Judicial effectiveness has been undermined by the massive increase in cases, paired with the dismissal of more than 4,000 judges, prosecutors and staff. Corruption has deepened, particularly at the local level.



Executive Capacity

Despite its increasingly powerful central government, Turkey scores relatively poorly (rank 32) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.9 points since 2014.

Following the April 2017 constitutional referendum, President Erdoğan immediately began exercising constitutional powers slated to take effect in 2019. The role of the prime minister and Council of Ministers has been rendered symbolic. The governance by emergency decree undermined strategic thinking and public administration improvements.

Government legislation is often drafted and adopted without the consultation of stakeholders. Despite the executive’s centralized structure, contradictory policy statements are frequent. It remained unclear how the presidency would fulfill monitoring responsibilities as the Prime Minister’s Office is gradually dissolved.

Government inefficiency is widespread, particularly with regard to economic objectives. The restructuring of governance has been driven by the aims of centralizing power and control. Turkey continues to host millions of Syrian refugees. The country expanded its joint anti-ISIL military operations in Syria to include full military confrontation with the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG forces.

Executive Accountability

With oversight mechanisms being increasingly undermined, Turkey takes the SGI 2018’s bottom spot (rank 41) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.8 points relative to 2014.

The government’s lack of transparency with regard to policymaking, with policy plans often kept secret or subject to last-minute changes, makes it difficult for citizens’ to develop policy knowledge. Media independence has been severely compromised since the attempted coup, complicating acquisition of reliable information. Social media is frequently restricted by the government.

Parliamentarians have moderate resources, with capacity development a persistent problem. The government has demonstrated a lack of accountability to the parliament. The audit court reports to parliament but is not accountable to it. A recently created Ombudsman office has seen a low level of compliance with its decisions.

Parties are centralized. Economic-interest organizations develop proposals that the government claims to take under consideration. An ideological divide hampers cooperation between secular and Islamic trade unions. The government has excluded opponents from decision-making processes, and created a network of loyal civil-society groups.
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